Here is a sign, a trace, a mark, a line, a dot, a leftover, an image, a small thing, an anectode told by someone, an encounter, a moment, a word, a note, a dog-eared page, a feeling, a question. Here is and will be a collection of lines, of stories, of passing of things.
_Places and identity, identity and places
p.20 – "Always you will be asked for your story: after (the accent twigged) 'Where are you from?' comes 'And what brings you here?' – because, so the thinking goes, this story defines the individual, for better or for worse. You are the embodiment of your story and if people don't know the beginning or middle, how can they predict the end? May you stay? Must you go? You will probably have a long version and a short version and both will, over time, be well rehearsed."
I am a different version of myself in Italy to the one I am in The Netherlands. When I move between countries or cultures I sometimes imagine it as a process of splitting. Theres some behaviours, ways of saying, ways of organising time and moving around that are so different that they make it feel I need to be a different version. Sometimes I am much calmer, sometimes I have so much energy that it is difficult to direct it. In some situations I can be very shy and silent and in other open to encounters and conversations. In both places I can feel nostalgic about something on the other side – a romantic view to where I am no longer. "Nostalgia, she says, can prevent you ever truly 'arriving and unpacking' anywhere else. But you can't go back either. 'Nostalgia' joints together the Greek words 'nòstos' and 'àlgos', 'homecoming' and 'pain'. It's painful because you intuit the return is impossible. You need to find a way of 'mediating', my friend says, of 'reconciling' the different aspects of yourself."
I wonder if taking into consideration the context have to push you to re-considering so much of 'a different way' of living and relating-with-the-other.
And, in the end, I wonder 'Where am I from?'.
The brambles are full of blackberries. Some ripe and dark blue-violet to be picked up, others still sour and tending to red colour. It is nice to collect them slowly, some for everyday, until the last ones are ripe.
We walked down and slowly filled our hands with these bubbly sweet berries, then Vida curved up the bottom edge of her shirt and we all started to put them in this soft container. Along the path we found some little lilac flowers too – tasting fresh like mint. We picked some, put them together with the blackberries and carried everything up at home for dinner with the others.
Some time ago while walking down the terraces of Topolò, I found the hood of my jacket filled with flowers and leaves from the forest. Kim and many others delicately put elements encountered along the path. I discovered it was filled with all these traces only once it started to rain and I had to wear the hood. I moved everyting into my pockets and carried it with me.
Another time, when living in Switzerland, during one of my daily walks in Appenzeller I suddenly encountered a bakery still using a wood oven to cook bread. The bakery was a little space filled with delicious pastries, breads and a few other local products. Lucky enough I had some Swiss francs in my pocket and after buying some bread I put it in my hood and carried it till St.Anton. Then the hood was empty again to be used in the coming days during other walks to carry books or some grocery from Oberegg, Trogen or Heiden up to St.Anton.
Clothes carry traces of experiences, some permanent marks, some little cuts, some temporary stains. I have a certain fascination for the care that most of the time I have towards these garments, trying to fix them, to clean them, to make them look as ‘at the beginning’–when I got them, to keep them in time. Other times I find myself happily surprised to be reminded of certain moments and stories by these traces on the fabric around me.
_Gestures of Care
Wild garlic leaves were already there, in a big white box in the fridge for days. Dora, Laura and Ola harvested them in the forest, and now they needed some care. I sat in the sun on the muretto – a little wall lower than a meter – in front of me the big white box with leaves, on the side a red colander for the ruined leaves and a white bowl for the good ones for Elena making pesto in the kitchen.
I was trying to be fast and to sort out the box before the beginning of the lunch when Riko, a beekeeper from Slovenia, came closer and calmly started a conversation around wild garlic. He eats the leaves in salad, with olive oil, salt and pepper and sometimes he eats the bulbs too after he prepared them as pickles.
I went inside for a moment and once back outside I found Riko sitting on the muretto and taking care of the wild garlic leaves. I sat on the ground next to him and for a moment I just silently observed the gestures of his hands delicately taking one or two leaves at a time and carefully opening them to finally place them in the white bowl. By looking at him my rhythm also changed and my attention and care too.
For movement’s sake the line is free to go where it will and in reading it, the eyes follow the same path as did the hand in drawing it.
Drawing a line is much like telling a story, the storyline goes along as does the line. The line is a path traced through the terrain of lived experience. To tell a story, Ingold says: “is to relate, in narrative, the occurrences of the past, retracing a path through the world that others, recursively picking up the threads of past lives, can follow in the process of spinning out their own”.
We spent days following lines imagined by someone years ago, maybe many years ago. First traced by the eyes on the rock, then performed with body movements and finally traced by a pen on a map. The drawing allows the line to be repeated, thus, the body gestures to happen over and over, again and again. Every repetition, slowly, in time, creates the story of that line on the rock. Every movement embodies the desire to experience that specific story on the limestone, granite, conglomerate. Once the line finishes, another one attracts the attention. One line follows the other. Lines connected through the landscape. Stories connected through people's experience.
“There is always somewhere further to go. And in storytelling as in wayfaring, it is in the movement from place to place – or from topic to topic – that knowledge is integrated.”
*Tim Ingold, Lines: Up, Across and Along, Routledge, 2007
When the sunlight touches the surface of the water little sparkles appear – I call them tingles. It somehow makes me smile and feel light. When tingles affect my body, I usually can't calm down, a special enthusiasm takes over everything and makes me feel bubbling.
I love the Italian word to define this phenomena: 'formicolio', from 'formica' (ant); as when I was young and without noticing I sat over an ant hill – multitude in motion – and suddenly my body was covered of these fast little insects.
I experience different types of this little slight prickling sensation. Tingling describes both the quick, very quick movement of elements in space, the strong feeling of an emotion, and the feeling as if a lot of sharp points are being put quickly and lightly into the body.
Tingles for the unknown. Tingles for surprises. Tingles for excitement. Tingles of fear. Pins and needles.
Sometimes I take a moment to observe the splendid sparkles flowing on the surface of the water creating an over-shifting brilliant pattern. Somehow standing in a point and observing this spectacle gives me a sense of, at the same time, calm and excitement. Their magic and ephemeral presence is hard to grasp and even when I see them, if I slowly move I notice how the sparkle slowly disappears, but I carry some tingles with me.
I clearly remember when two years ago I started to feel it again. It was the beginning of spring, days were getting longer here in the lowlands and after a slow and introspective period I suddenly started to feel better. The sunlight reflected in the canals of Amsterdam made me smile and a sensation of lightness swept all over me. The months after I just felt constant tingles for the present and the unknown, a lot of energy and desire to explore, share with others and let myself be surprised again. Many other tingling moments followed. Sometimes they are little situations–traces–memories that I like to remember and carry-with-me. Lived moments, that if I think about, I immediately feel some joy.
“How else do most of us experience history if not in the presence or absence of small things?”
Thea Lenarduzzi, Dandelions, Fitzcarraldo, 2020